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Illum Sphere Ghosts of Then and Now

Label: Ninja Tune

Over the past several years, Manchester producer and Hoya:Hoya co-founder Ryan Hunn (a.k.a. Illum Sphere) assembled a fairly impressive resume for himself, even before he was signed to Ninja Tune. Still, the venerable British label—responsible for over two decades of underground staples, and more recent standouts from the likes of Machinedrum, FaltyDL, and Slugabed—took something of a leap of faith by bringing Hunn into the fold, as he had yet to prove himself with a full-length. It's also debatable whether Ninja Tune is an appropriate home for Illum Sphere, whose music holds little of the playful, dub-inspired vibe that stamps most of the label's releases, and instead takes itself rather seriously. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 02/10/2014

Jerome LOL Deleted/Fool EP

When LOL Boys went on indefinite hiatus towards the tail end of 2012, it was genuinely disappointing. The duo's Changes EP, which had been released only a month prior, had achieved an impressive balance between kitsch and sophistication with its particular brand of chilled-out '90s house influences, jazzy chords, and genuinely affecting guest vocal performances. Nevertheless, fans of LOL Boys have likely taken solace in the flurry of activity from Jerome LOL in the year following the group's separation. Apart from maintaining an active presence as the co-founder of the consistently excellent Body High label, the Los Angeles-based producer has issued a steady stream of free downloads, mixes, compilation tracks, and remixes, all of which have seen him exploring an inventive range of styles, including ambient-leaning tracks, pop edits, and a continuation of the melodic but abstract territory once covered by LOL Boys. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 02/05/2014

Dusky "9T8"

Label: School

Together as Dusky, Alfie Granger-Howell and Nick Harriman have formed an uncommonly dependable partnership. With each Dusky record that has surfaced since 2011, listeners and—perhaps more importantly—DJs have learned that the London pair could be counted on for at least one effective (and usually rather catchy) garage/bass/house hybrid per effort. With its first release of 2014, Dusky has come up with another piece of well-mannered club music, taking only the smallest steps outside of its comfort zone in the process. The outfit's dependability may be unshaken as a result, but "9T8" is ultimately far from exciting. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 01/31/2014

Terrence Parker Life on the Back 9

Label: Planet E

Few followers of electronic music need reminding that Detroit spawned a techno monster in the 1980s. But house music was also blowing up in the city at that time, and could be heard at backyard parties on the west side, on the lawns of Belle Isle Park along the Detroit River, and in clubs where disco ruled in the decade before. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 01/30/2014

The White Lamp "Ride with You"

Label: Hotflush

After decades in the game, Darren Emerson has been on something of a roll in recent years. His recent collaborations with vocalist Peter Josef as The White Lamp have resulted in releases for labels such as Sonar Kollektiv and Futureboogie, and now the pair has come up with "Ride with You," its first outing on Scuba's Hotflush imprint. Interestingly enough, Emerson wrapped up his 2013 with a solo EP marking his debut for John Digweed's Bedrock Records, and in some ways, it's hard to decide which effort is most surprising. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 01/30/2014

JETS featuring Jamie Lidell Midas Touch

This is only the second release from Jimmy Edgar and Travis Stewart (a.k.a. Machinedrum) as JETS following their superb self-titled debut EP from 2012. Despite both artists residing in Berlin in the time since (Stewart has very recently moved back to the US), it's not surprising that they've found limited opportunities to get together and record a follow-up. Demanding tour schedules, getting a new label off the ground (their co-curated Ultramajic), and recording one of last year's best albums (Machinedrum's Vapor City) would take up a lot of anyone's time, and in many ways, this enjoyable cover version of Midnight Star's much-loved 1986 synth-funk hit "Midas Touch" is a neat embodiment of the limited time both artists presumably had to devote to its creation. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 01/29/2014

Cooly G Hold Me EP

Label: Hyperdub

Cooly G (a.k.a. Merissa Campbell) has always been a difficult producer to pin down. Between her self-released Dub Organizer EPs and early singles for Hyperdub, the South London producer was one of the first to effectively blur the boundaries between UK funky, garage, house, and dubstep, injecting an ineffable quality into the mix with her simultaneously icy and emotive voice. Campbell's releases have often had one foot firmly situated on the London dancefloor and the other in deep, dubby, and sometimes decidedly song-based territory. Her Hyperdub debut, "Narst" b/w "Love Dub," is an excellent example, as it paired the aggressive, grimey a-side with the slower, 2-step-inflected balladry of "Love Dub." While her music has always balanced between these poles, what has made Cooly G so compelling to listen to over the years is the way these two sides consistently worm their way into the same tune—even at its most insistent and tracky, Campbell's music is suffused with a smokey ephemerality that is entirely her own. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 01/29/2014

Supreme Cuts Divine Ecstasy

When Supreme Cuts released its debut album Whispers in the Dark in 2012, the Chicago production duo explored a slightly derivative take on cosmic, maximalist R&B and other percussion-rich styles, with flashes of brilliance hinting at the possibility of a looser, more experimental approach on the pair's next record. However, the arrival of sophomore LP Divine Ecstasy seems to indicate that the producers ultimately elected to take a different path, as they've dialed up the color contrast of their instrumentation and have fully indulged their pop sensibilities, resulting in a thoroughly conflicted sound. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 01/28/2014

Todd Osborn Michigan Dream

Label: Blueberry

Detroit-based Ghostly/Spectral Sound affiliate Todd Osborn is one of contemporary electronic music's true characters and renaissance men. Equally at home building hovercrafts or flying airplanes as he is at making jungle as Soundmurderer, house as Osborne, arena metal as Musk, or acid with Tadd Mullinix as TNT, Osborn's restless, eccentric character makes him a truly fascinating personality. The idea for this EP, on the nascent Brooklyn label Blueberry Records, came about during a visit that label boss Drew Lustman (a.k.a. FaltyDL) made to Detroit in 2012. During Lustman's stay, his friend Osborn, in typically flamboyant style, picked him up in "his converted Police Cruiser with spot light" and took him to his house "to listen to unreleased joints by him and his heroes." Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 01/28/2014

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